Making the most of who you are

I’ve been studying small Iowa towns of late. Trying to decipher what makes some more successful than others.

One answer appears to lie in taking a close look at your community and making the most of what makes you unique. The western Iowa community of Audubon has done just that. Even though ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and artist John James Audubonnever visited there, the town that bears his name has made every effort to capitalize on this most famous painter of birds.Their projects include a 2.5 mile bird walk cast in mosaics along the community’s downtown brick sidewalks, murals in public buildings, a bronze statue and recording of Audubon’s voice in the town park, and a new bird clock tower at the Masonic Lodge.

The mosaics were created and installed by artist and native son Clint Hansen. The photos are courtesy of Audubon photographer Juanita Renard.

Every community cannot point to such a famous namesake. But I expect every community could find something that makes it special. The challenge, of course, isn’t just to find the uniqueness, but to have the community strength of will to carry through.

I wrote more about Audubon, Iowa, in the March-April issue of The Iowan.

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